Athletics

Angels catcher Francisco Arcia makes MLB history in 21-3 loss to A's

Angels catcher Francisco Arcia makes MLB history in 21-3 loss to A's

Position players pitching has become all the rage in Major League Baseball this season.

Some find it fun and quirky. Some think managers have taken it too far, using position players early in blowouts rather than at the end.

Where ever you stand on the tactic, you should be able to appreciate what Angels catcher Francisco Arcia did on Thursday in Oakland.

For the first six innings of the game, Arcia was in the squat, catching six different Angels pitchers. But after those six innings, the A's led the Angels 18-2, so manager Mike Scioscia decided to save one of unlimited relief pitchers (oh hey September roster expansion) and put Arcia on the mound.

Arcia got the first two outs of the seventh, but then give up a single to A's catcher Josh Phegley, a two-run homer to left fielder Nick Martini and another homer to third baseman Chad Pinder. Arcia would go on to pitch a 1-2-3 eighth inning.

Then things got really weird in the top of the ninth inning. With two outs and the A's up 21-2, Arcia hit a solo home run off A's reliever Chris Hatcher. If you go back and watch the replay of the home run closely, you can actually see Arcia laughing as he's rounding the bases.

Why is this news? Because Arcia is the first player in the modern era of MLB to catch, pitch and homer in the same game.

So, for those fans that stuck around the Coliseum to watch the end of a bloodbath, they got to see something that has never happened in MLB history. Congrats to them. Hang on to that ticket. They still make tickets, right?

A's vs. Royals lineups: Ramón Laureano gets day off, Josh Phegley returns

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A's vs. Royals lineups: Ramón Laureano gets day off, Josh Phegley returns

OAKLAND -- After a disappointing 6-5 loss in Monday's series opener, the A's will try to bounce back against the lowly Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night at the Coliseum.

Oakland will be without outfielder Ramón Laureano, as the team tries to give him plenty of games off in his recovery from a stress reaction in his right shin. Robbie Grossman will replace Laureano in right field and bat eighth.

Josh Phegley returns to the lineup in the ninth position and will handle the catching duties. Phegley has already recorded a career-high 12 home runs and 59 RBI this season.

Veteran left-hander Brett Anderson takes the mound for the A's seeking his 13th win of the season, which would extend his career-high. Anderson, 31, is 12-9 with a 4.07 ERA in 29 starts. In three career outings against the Royals, he is 2-1 with an 8.16 ERA.

Kansas City counters with right-hander Jorge López. The 26-year-old is 4-7 with a 6.09 ERA in 36 games this season, including 15 starts. Lopez has only faced the A's once in his career, allowing five runs in just 1 2/3 innings last month. 

Here are the full lineups for the A's-Royals game, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports California and the MyTeams app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. PT, with first pitch at 7:07.

Kansas City Royals (56-95)
2B Whit Merrifield
SS Adalberto Mondesí
DH Jorge Soler
3B Hunter Dozier
LF Alex Gordon
RF Ryan McBroom
1B Cheslor Cuthbert
CF Bubba Starling
C Nick Dini

RHP Jorge López (4-7, 6.09 ERA)

Oakland A's (90-61)
SS Marcus Semien
3B Matt Chapman
1B Matt Olson
CF Mark Canha 
LF Seth Brown
DH Khris Davis
2B Jurickson Profar
RF Robbie Grossman
C Josh Phegley

LHP Brett Anderson (12-9, 4.07 ERA)

How A's J.B. Wendelken has earned Bob Melvin's trust in big situations

How A's J.B. Wendelken has earned Bob Melvin's trust in big situations

OAKLAND -- The A's have been searching for a reliable eighth-inning relief option for essentially the entire season. They might have found one potential answer in 26-year-old J.B. Wendelken.

The hard-throwing right-hander was terrific last season, allowing just one run in 16 2/3 innings, with 14 strikeouts. But after a slow start in 2019, Wendelken was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he has spent most of this year.

Since returning to the A's earlier this month, Wendelken has pitched five perfect innings. That's right -- 15 up, 15 down.

"I've been feeling really good," Wendelken told NBC Sports California. "It's a little bit of an adjustment period, but that's the way it always is. I'm just coming in and giving the guys a chance to get ahead. That's all you can do out of the pen."

It appears Wendelken has already earned his manager's trust. On multiple occasions, Bob Melvin has utilized the young right-hander in late-inning, high-leverage situations.

"We've always felt like he was a guy that we could count on," Melvin said. "It's nice to have him here and he's pitched really well for us, so hopefully, he can gain some confidence from that."

"It's super exciting. It's one of those things where they put your faith in you and you have to step up," Wendelken said. "It's an adrenaline rush, but at the same time, it could be overwhelming. We all have a job to do. All we can do is go in there and be hard-nosed."

Throughout his career, Wendelken has relied on his mid-to-high 90s fastball, only occasionally mixing in a changeup and curveball. But during his time in Triple-A, he began developing a slider. 

"It's come a long way," Wendelken said. "It took a while to even get a swing and a miss. That was the big thing. We kind of laughed about it. In two months there (in Las Vegas), I didn't even get one swing and miss on it. I'm finally getting a little turnaround on it, so it's good to see some movement and some swings and misses."

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As the A's make their final playoff push, they will continue to rely on Wendelken in the late innings. If he can maintain his effectiveness, it will go a long way toward putting Oakland over the top.